Category Archives: Bigotry

Saturday Odds & Sods: Moon Rocks

This Image Should Have Been On The Cover Of Life Magazine by Alan Bean.

History was made 50 years ago today when Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon. It was controversial among some at the time for being a waste of money and has become the subject of wackadoo conspiracy theories. I watched the moon landing unfold and I thought it was magnificent; even better than Star Trek or 2001. The truth is not only stranger than fiction, it can be much better. I still think the heyday of the space program is way cool or perhaps even wicked awesome.

This week’s featured image is a painting by the late Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean. It’s based on a picture taken by Buzz Aldrin of Neil Armstrong; hence the epic title. I thought it was high time to give it, uh, new Life.

There are a wide variety of moon songs to choose from. For this week’s theme song, I went with one that’s lunar landing specific. Moon Rocks was written by David Bryne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth for Talking Heads monster hit 1983 album, Speaking In Tongues.

Now that we’ve done a bit of space walking, let’s cut the tether and float to the break.

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Donald Trump Is A Racist

I realize that I’m both preaching to the choir and stating the obvious with this post title. I think it’s important to be direct when writing about the depths of the Insult Comedian’s bigotry and the damage it has done to the country.

Vox’s German Lopez has assembled an impressive timeline of Trumpian public racism that stretches back to 1973. It’s an ugly but must-read piece. Anyone with a lick of sense has known from the beginning that Donald Trump is not only a criminal, he’s a racist.

What else was birtherism but a demand that Barack Obama show his “papers” to prove his citizenship? It didn’t need to be true or even partially true to have a malicious effect on the body politic. Hell, Trump wasn’t even the original birther but he was the most persistent.

I realize that Trump’s “go back” attack on the Squad was an attempt to divert attention from all the Trump scandals. It was imperative, however, to call him on his egregious racism. I wish he would “go back” to Trump Tower and leave the rest of us alone.

There were only 4 Republican House members plus Justin Amash who voted for the resolution condemning Trump’s latest racist tweet. I was surprised that there were any so this kinda, sorta counts as progress.

The GOP response was typified by Mitch McConnell, Steve Scalise, and Kevin McCarthy all of whom claimed Trump is not a racist and that they were nice to then President Obama. It’s all so typical and tiresome. Give it a rest, y’all. You own this guy and his overt racism.

The worst effect of having a racist, white nationalist president* is that it’s now socially acceptable in some quarters to make overtly racist comments in broad daylight. They’re following the president’s* bad example. I wish they would crawl back under the rock they oozed out from under BUT at least we know where we stand. The dog whistle has been replaced with a bullhorn.

Team Trump’s 2020 strategy has been obvious for months: defame, slander, and lie about their opponents to depress Democratic turnout. It’s their only hope of winning since they’ve been shrinking their base since the infamous “American carnage” inaugural rant. The good news is that Trump’s racist, xenophobic mid-term campaign did not work. The bad news is that we’re stuck with this asshole until January, 2021.

One good effect of Trump’s face-off with the Squad is that the MSM is starting to call a racist a racist. Trump’s reaction has been typically overstated:

That’s the Insult Comedian’s version of “some of my best friends are black.” Given his record of sexual assault, there may be one bone in his body that isn’t racist, if you catch my drift.

I may be preaching to the choir but repeat after me: Donald Trump is a racist.

The last word goes to Rodney Crowell:

Tweet Of The Day: John Kerry Edition

Before entering electoral politics, Ayanna Pressley was a senior aide to then Senator John Kerry. Big John rose to Pressley’s defense after the president* told her and three of her colleagues to “go back” to their shithole districts. I’m the one who said shithole this time, but he’s said it before and will say it again. Believe me.

The MSM called Trump’s original tweet, “racially charged.” Those of us in the reality based community called it racist. It was a successful attempt to distract attention from the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. It’s the only thing the Insult Comedian does well.

A quick note to my fellow Democrats; STFU and stop attacking one another. We’re the big tent party and we need a coalition to win elections. Moderates and Lefties need one another to take on the real enemy: THE PARTY OF TRUMP.

Minimum Standards

This is all they asked:

Basically, the job offer was like, “You can put babies in cages and enforce unenforceable bullshit and be as big of a racist shitbag as you want to be, thanks to the current administration, but for the love of fuck do not post your racist shitbaggery on a public form with your name and references to your FEDERAL AGENCY attached.”

That’s a VERY low bar, honestly. Even considering the types of racists the job would either attract or nurture, “please do not broadcast your inner sturmfuhrer to all and sundry on Al Gore’s internet” is a basic requirement for public service to have.

I am sure that in the coming days we will hear about how hard this job is and how these brave “first responders” just had to blow off some steam by photoshopping members of Congress blowing Donald Trump, that they were having wacky fun, and that if YOU, a low-T soyboy liberal, had to cage babies you too would need to make jokes at those babies’ expenses in order to live with the stress.

So let’s be clear: I am not shocked or offended by the racism. It is their whole entire job to be racist, why even bother doing it if you don’t believe dangerous slavering hordes of people are coming to kill us all in our beds and take our God-given white welfare? I am not in any way surprised that they are racist, misogynistic assholes.

I am contemptuous of the utter stupidity, and astonished that at a time when our bar could not be lower, CBP officers still found a way to slither underneath.

A.

The Fog Of Scandal: Perpetual Crisis Care

The 24-7 news cycle has been frantic for quite some time but in the Trump era it’s like a hyperactive child in need of medication. The child in question is, of course, the Insult Comedian.

After losing to Jack Kennedy, Richard Nixon wrote a pretty good, albeit self-serving, book called Six Crises. The Current Occupant has more like Sixty Crises some of which are so repetitive that the people and the media are becoming numb to them. It’s the presidency, in E’s memorable phrase, as Novocaine For The Soul.

This political numbness must be resisted at all costs: it’s okay not to be SURPRISED by presidential* antics but we should be SHOCKED by all the crazy the Trump regime throws our way. We conclude this opening sermonette with a musical interlude: a Fall Out Boy song whose protagonist sounds eerily like Trumpberius.

This is a black, black ski mask song
So put all of your anger on
In the truly gruesome do we trust
I will always land on you like a sucker punch
Singing I am your worst, I am your worst nightmare
I am your worst, I am your worst nightmare

Indeed you are, Donald, indeed you are.

Two of the major crises du jour are the internment camps on the border, especially the one at Clint, Texas, and the slagging match with Iran that could result in another stupid war in the Middle East. Trump relies on his gut when it comes to foreign policy, and *my* gut tells me that he’s bluffing in his face-off with Iran. BUT the chance for miscalculation is great when his senior advisers, Bolton and Pompeo, are salivating over the prospect of regime change in Iran. We’ve seen that movie before. It didn’t play well in Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran is a more formidable foe than the decadent dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Stay tuned.

As to the migrant concentration camps, only a hardcore, heartless racist could fail to be moved by accounts of children living in their own filth without soap or toothbrushes. Since my eyesight and hearing are crappy, I have an acute sense of smell and the stench coming from children who have no soap with which to bathe is a notion that haunts me.  It’s slow motion torture, which is a stain on our national honor. It’s a rotten lead up to Independence Day.

There’s been a lively discussion in the corners of social media that I frequent about what issue we should focus on. We need to multi-task because the Trump regime will always trump up something to distract us. Diversion is the only thing they do well. Remember the Maddow Doctrine:

There’s one Trump crisis that the MSM is particularly numb to: We have a president* who is a serial sexual assaulter who sees women as prey, not people. The Gray Lady primly did not publish a story about E. Jean Carroll’s credible rape allegations for days after they broke. The depressing consensus among the Cult of the Savvy and GOP bigwigs seems to be that the voters knew about Trump’s rapey ways and elected him anyway. The NYT has admitted error and Trump has, predictably, said she was not hot enough for him to lust after. In a word: gross. Donald Trump is a pussy, he should grab himself.

If you haven’t read Dahlia Lithwick’s brilliant piece about the Carroll allegations, make sure you do. Dahlia points out that Carroll did it on her own terms in a way that none of Trump’s manifold manhandled accusers have done:

I understand why so many people think the media’s failure here is the result of boredom. One reality of the Trump era is how profoundly boring it is—we watch the same dramas unfold, again and again; we debunk the same lies, again and again; and we issue the same warnings, again and again. But I don’t think that what happened here is the result of boredom so much as an almost perfect journalistic incapacity for telling any story it hasn’t told a thousand times before. Maybe we’re not bored. Maybe we’re just boring.

Because E. Jean Carroll flipped the script. Having watched, and watched, and watched the #MeToo stories play out over the past several years, she decided she wasn’t going to do it as it had been done. She was going to tell her own story on her own terms, publishing it in her own book. Because, as she wrote in the excerpt published in New York magazine last Friday:

“Why haven’t I “come forward” before now?

Receiving death threats, being driven from my home, being dismissed, being dragged through the mud, and joining the 15 women who’ve come forward with credible stories about how the man grabbed, badgered, belittled, mauled, molested, and assaulted them, only to see the man turn it around, deny, threaten, and attack them, never sounded like much fun. Also, I am a coward.”

She’s the opposite of a coward. E. Jean Carroll is my new hero. It takes guts to deal with a traumatic episode with wit and humor; two qualities her rapist notably lacks. All he knows how to do is attack, belittle, degrade, and divert attention from his crimes.

The last word goes to Eels:

Repeat after me: Donald Trump is a criminal.

Watch What They Do, Not What They Say

I’ve stopped reading the president’s* twitter feed on a regular basis. It’s full of bluster, bigotry, braggadocio, and bullshit. Every once in a while the Insult Comedian changes “policy” by tweet. He enjoys seeing the country jump when he says something outrageous. It’s how this sick fuck gets his kicks. I wish he’d stick to Route 66.

Trump also uses his twitter feed to try and blackmail his opponents into submission but there’s usually a tell. That was the case with the so-called “ICE round-up of millions.” It was all about the announcement, not the round-up. When any law enforcement agency conducts a raid, it’s a tightly kept secret so as not to give the subjects time to flee or destroy evidence. Trump’s tweet was the tell that he was lying. He also gets a sadistic kick out of upsetting his enemies. Repeat after me: cruelty is the Trump regime’s only immigration policy. The rest is a sick charade.

I’m gobsmacked that anyone takes anything this president* says at face value but they still do. Another recent example is the lie told after he “called off” a bomb strike against Iran. He claimed that he hadn’t gotten a casualty count before the planes were in the air. In fact, it’s SOP for the military to include that information upon briefing any president including those without an asterisk. It’s all about the drama, it has nothing to with the real world.

I realize it’s frustrating to deal with this sort of fantasist but it’s our current reality. That’s why I’d demand verification even if the Insult Comedian were to say: “I’m a fat guy with bad hair and a fake tan.” Of course, he’d say none of those things but it’s a sign of his extreme mendacity that I wouldn’t believe him if he did.

I am a firm believer in what I call the Maddow Doctrine: Watch what they do, not what they say.  Words are cheap and in this case there’s usually some sort of bluff involved; if we pretend otherwise, he’ll steal everything that isn’t nailed down including our souls. There are no silver bullets to slay this particular monster except for one: the 2020 general election.

The last word goes to Michael F with this image from an April post, He’s Bluffing:

Image by Michael F.

Who’s Selling Hate to These People?

This story is full of more assholes than a bag of assholes but the biggest assholes in it aren’t named: 

Across the state, this network includes conservative radio hosts, think tanks and digital media that focus on anti-refugee news in Minnesota, as well as small community groups like C-Cubed, which repeatedly invite anti-Muslim speakers to town, leading to clashes and protests. Formed in 2017 to support more nativist candidates on the City Council, C-Cubed is a small group of only about a dozen members, but its existence has already changed the city’s political landscape.

C-Cubed supported four candidates for City Council last year, and two won seats, although Mr. Palmer himself lost. Members say they are raising questions about the state’s refugee program in order to determine its total cost. But in interviews, many repeatedly outlined more fundamental fears, including the belief that an influx of people who were nonwhite and non-Christian posed a cultural threat.

Several of the group’s members and their allies said their stand against immigration was a small part of a broader national conflict, in which the rising tide of a multicultural, multiracial Democratic Party must be opposed.

Who runs the sites and funds the radio stations and tells people to specifically compare abortion to the Holocaust? These people all say the same things and nobody asks where they heard it?

We are running story after story after story about Trump voters holding them up to be shamed, and yes, they should be shamed. These people make my fucking skin crawl. Imagine spending your life curled up around that kind of hatred. Like these are your days, reading angry websites and hosting meetings to be mad at refugees, this is what you’re doing with your time? These people should be shamed for buying this crap.

But the GOP should be shamed more, for selling it. In the most charitable interpretation of the sort of Republican Party Joe Biden wishes still existed, the GOP has benefitted immensely from racism in every form for the past 50 years. Even when they weren’t screaming it from the pulpit, racism was getting them elected. And at any time they could have said you know, this isn’t what we need to do right now. They didn’t, and they drove out the ones that tried.

So while we all cluck over the individuals in this story — they’re awful, and they’ll be judged for it in this world or the next — we need to keep in mind the structure that nourished and supported them, that confirmed their suspicions and validated their fears, and profited from them. They’re not victims, but they’re not the ultimate victors either.

A.

The Fog Of History: Semantic Antics

Choosing sides between Liz Cheney and Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez isn’t difficult. The latter called Trump’s migrant detention centers, concentration camps, and the former denounced this characterization. It’s a bit rich coming from a woman whose father is a torture fan but that’s life in the Trump era. It’s a theatre of the absurd more confusing than the crazy house/hall of mirrors scene in The Lady From Shanghai:

There’s a nightmare of the Trump regime’s creation at our Southern border. I’m glad it’s back in the spotlight but the semantic antics on the right are diverting attention onto their current bete noire: AOC. The implication is that calling a concentration camp what it actually is makes AOC some sort of Holocaust denier/minimizer; a David Irving with better dance moves. This is, of course, toxic nonsense.

Many scholars of the period have pointed out the difference between Nazi concentration camps and death camps. One could justly call the camps in which Japanese American citizens were unjustly detained concentration camps. This circular discussion reminds me of an absurd scene in another classic 1940’s film, To Be Or Not To Be:

The bottom line is that the United States government is holding migrants in camps wherein conditions are so appalling that they’ve resulted in 24 deaths. Adding horrifying insult to egregious injury is that children are being separated from their parents; in many instances permanently. That’s what matters, not what you call the camps. Words are important but people’s lives are infinitely more so.

Adding to the crazy house aspect of this debate is that babies are being locked in cages in the name of the rule of law. It’s beyond hypocritical coming from an administration that’s engaged in obstruction of justice on myriad fronts. It’s a small leap from myriad to the hall of mirrors in the crazy house.

Crazy House Mirror Maze

Image by Greg Biermann.

There are three articles about the Cheney-AOC debate that I highly recommend:

Dahlia Lithwick & Susan Mathews: The AOC-Liz Cheney “Concentration Camp” Fight Might Just Be A Distraction.

Andrea Pitzer:  How The Trump Administration’s Border Camps Fit Into The History Of Concentration Camps.

Eric Levtiz: With Trump’s Migrant Camps, The History We Should Fear Repeating Is Our Own.

Levitz issues a reminder about America’s inglorious history at our Southern border:

…progressives shouldn’t need to invoke the Holocaust to place migrant-detention centers in their proper context. The border separating the United States from lands dominated by nonwhite peoples has been a site of white-nationalist violence since the founding of our republic. America’s southern border is itself an artifact of a war of conquest that our government launched against Mexico — an invasion that Ulysses S. Grant called “one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.” According to General Winfield Scott, commander of U.S. forces during that war, American troops committed atrocities against Mexican civilians so egregious they would “make Heaven weep, & every American, of Christian morals blush for his country. Murder, robbery, & rape on mothers & daughters, in the presence of the tied up males of the families, have been common along the Rio Grande.” In the decades that followed, Klansmen, citizen’s militias, and the uniformed officers of the Texas Rangers regularly lynched Latinos whom they regarded as invaders or threats to America’s racial order and purity. This is the history that Trumpism emerged from; these are the atrocities it threatens to repeat. Before Americans likened the violence at our borders to the Nazis, the Nazis likened their conquest of Eastern Europe to the violence at our frontiers.

History has a funny way of repeating itself although the results themselves are rarely funny ha-ha. We’re currently trapped in a crazy house hall of mirrors and blinded by the fog of history. All the semantic antics in the world will not change that; only the voters can. Make it so.

Pondering the wingnutty reaction to AOC has given me an earworm. The last word goes to Bryan Ferry:

On Joe Biden’s Civility Fetish

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one thing Joe Biden has in common with Donald Trump is a fatal inability to STFU. The former Veep has a tendency to trip over his tongue every time he talks about civility. One might even call him a Lost Civility Causer.

This time Biden took it way too far:

As evidence of his ability to forge personal bonds, the former vice president pointed to his 36-year career in the Senate, which stretched back to 1973 and overlapped with the service of leading Southern Democrats. Biden cited the late senators James O. Eastland (Miss.) and Herman E. Talmadge (Ga.), who were steadfastly opposed to civil rights and racial integration.

“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden said at the fundraiser, where he was introduced by Eric Mindich, an investment manager and former Goldman Sachs partner.

The Democratic presidential candidate, who has led his competitors in early polls of the crowded nominating contest, briefly impersonated the southern drawl of the Mississippi cotton planter, lawyer and lawmaker. “He never called me ‘boy,’ ” Biden said. “He always called me ‘son.’ ”

Biden’s campaign didn’t immediately return a request for comment about why it would be notable that the Dixiecrat — who thought black Americans belonged to an “inferior race” and warned that integration would cause “mongrelization” — didn’t call Biden “boy,” a racial epithet deployed against black men.

The garrulous gaffe machine also invoked the name of former Georgia Senator and Governor Herman Talmadge who was a second generation race baiting segregationist.

Even with Talmadge — “one of the meanest guys I ever knew” — Biden noted, “at least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done.”

Biden cited two of the worst Dixiecrats who remained in the Senate during his early years. There were other segregationists such as John Stennis and Russell Long who changed with the times and were never as overtly racist or hateful as Eastland and Talmadge. Biden might as well have cited Strom Thurmond.

I’ll never forget a story that went around the Hill about Eastland. The Senate threw a reception for Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during one of his visits when Carter was president. Eastland took one look at Sadat and said in a loud stage whisper: “Why, I believe the president is a nigra.” He stepped out of the reception line so he wouldn’t have to shake Sadat’s hand. I guess Biden would say of that story, “at least he called him a nigra, not the other n word.” Civility, try it, you’ll like it.

Do I think Joe Biden is a racist? Absolutely not. Do I think he needs to think before he speaks? Absolutely. He seems bound and determined to talk his way out of the Democratic nomination. Another reason I support Elizabeth Warren.

Repeat after me, Joe:

Who Told Them The Left Hated Them?

Everyone’s dunking all over this which is right and just, but there’s something else happening:

Which is, you are convinced you have to be a Nazi because The Left hates you. So who told you the Left hated you?

I mean, did some mean feminist actually come up to you, spit in your face and say FUCK YOU FOR BEING A STRAIGHT WHITE MAN?

Or did someone tell you that happened to someone else who heard it from their cousin who saw it on “the news” who told their brother’s sister-in-law’s college roommate’s friend? Did Fox News tell you it was happening daily on the streets of God’s America? Did some YouTuber rant about anonymous leftists hating you? HOW DID YOU FIND OUT, and why did you believe it?

Because I gotta tell you, I talk to people all day long and zero of my conversations with acquaintances involve telling straight white men they’re inferior.

Sometimes they involve telling straight white men to cut out this or that specific behavior, but my direct conversations? With other humans, face to face? Rarely involve Twitter sentiments like “let’s keep straight white men in pens for sex and run the world on our own.”

How do you know the Left hates you, straight white fellow who’s just being PUSHED INTO being a Nazi because you HAD NO OTHER CHOICE? Who told you this was an acceptable response to being oppressed?

It isn’t some natural human reflex and the way I know that is African-Americans were enslaved and tortured for 400 years and they’ve managed to Nazi exactly nobody.

So at some point somebody told you this was a reasonable thing to do and say, and I’d like us to talk more about that person than about you, because buying this shit is one thing but selling it, as any drug dealer will tell you, is a whole ‘nother.

At a certain point we have to start addressing these conceptions of “the left” and “the media” hating REAL AMERICANS as the propaganda strategies they are. As electoral tools for the GOP, and not as something people of color caused by, like, existing and for which they should apologize.

A.

A New Low: Trump’s Blood Libel

In the first year of the Trump regime, I revived the “your president speaks” feature. It’s a Bush-era feature that was brought back upon the inauguration of another president* who said weird and wacky shit. As the lies mounted, I drew back from the feature because most of the Insult Comedian’s statements weren’t funny any more. It’s hard to spin comedy gold out of the rancid bullshit spewed by Trump and his lackeys. It made me feel like Rumple-fucking-stiltskin’s evil twin so I dialed the feature back. I’m *almost* nostalgic for the days when the Kaiser of Chaos threw rolls of paper towels to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico. Almost.

Trump’s latest major rhetorical outrage is neither funny nor surprising, but it’s so shocking that I feel compelled to write about it. Repeat after me: if we lose the capacity to be shocked, the Trumpers win.

I’m, of course, referring to crazy shit said by the president* on the stump in  Green Bay, Wisconsin where he replaced the Lambeau leap with the Trump stretch:

“The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully, and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.”

It’s not only a lie, it’s incitement speech.  There are not now, nor have there ever been, “executions” involving a mother and her doctor. These inflammatory remarks are analogous to the blood libel spread by the Nazis and their anti-Semitic fellow travelers. Here’s how the ADL defines the blood libel:

The “blood libel” refers to a centuries-old false allegation that Jews murder Christians – especially Christian children – to use their blood for ritual purposes, such as an ingredient in the baking of Passover matzah (unleavened bread). It is also sometimes called the “ritual murder charge.” The blood libel dates back to the Middle Ages and has persisted despite Jewish denials and official repudiations by the Catholic Church and many secular authorities. Blood libels have frequently led to mob violence and pogroms, and have occasionally led to the decimation of entire Jewish communities.

In this case, the blood libel is against women facing the worst moment imaginable and the doctors who are there to help them. Trump did not claim that evil pro-choicers use baby blood in some satanic socialist ritual but he might as well have. What does someone who “executes” a baby deserve? Lynching? Stoning? A second Trump term?

I take this personally. My wife is a medical educator. She and her colleagues try every day to instill ethical conduct in their students. I don’t recall hearing about a class in baby executions.

When I was young, most physicians were Republicans. They were against “socialized medicine” and wanted lower taxes on their earnings but were otherwise caring and compassionate people. In 2019, the majority of physicians vote Democratic. They no longer support the anti-science party, especially now that rabid anti-choicers denounce their OB-GYN colleagues as baby executioners.

Trump’s mouthing the most extreme “pro-life” rhetoric is, to be blunt, despicable. It’s a cynical exercise in rallying his base, which is another reason that it’s a blood libel. The facts and implications be damned. The president* just gave a green light to those inclined to attack abortion clinics. He’s big on giving a green light to extremists: remember the post-Charlottesville comments that will live in infamy. The people who chanted “Jews will not replace us” included some “very good people.” Yeah, right. #sarcasm.

In the 20th Century, there was a long running debate between two leading Hitler scholars, Hugh Trevor-Roper and Alan Bullock, as to whether the Führer was a true believer or a mountebank. That’s a fancy way of saying con man. In the end, it didn’t matter, the result was the same: war, genocide, death, and suffering. Hitler was a true believer, Trump is a mountebank. In this case, that may be worse, not only is Trump a con man, the only thing he believes in is his own awesomeness. That’s a crazy thing on which to base a political movement but it’s the putrid essence of Trumpsim. It needs to be extracted from our body politic like a malign tumor.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Back In The High Life Again

Mesas In Shadows by Maynard Dixon

I had a stupid kitchen accident this week. The sink was full-ish so I decided to pour boiling water into an airborne/hand-held colander. I missed and mildly scalded my left hand. It hurt like hell for a day or so but barely qualified as a first degree burn. I did, however, feel like a first degree dumbass. It was not unlike being an honorary Trump.

I just finished reading John Farrell’s fine 2017 biography of Richard Nixon. I learned two positive things about Tricky Dick. First, he broke his arm as a young politician after slipping on the ice outside his DC area home. The break occurred because he held onto his daughter instead of bracing for the fall with his hands. Second, Nixon was a good tipper. He tipped 25% in the late Sixties when 10% when standard and 15% was a big tip. Hell has frozen over: I just said something nice about Nixon.

After last week’s sad theme songs, I decided to elevate the tone a bit. Back In The High Life Again was written by Steve Winwood and Will Jennings in 1986. It was a big hit; surely aided by James Taylor’s gorgeous harmony vocals.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Winwood’s chirpy original and a mournful interpretation by Warren Zevon, another wry and sardonic guy. We’re everywhere, y’all.

Now I want some Miller High Life, which is my favorite cheap beer. It’s even good enough for my beer snob/home brewer friend Greg. On that note, let’s take a swig of Miller, then jump to the break. Try not to spill any. Wasting beer is a sin.

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Axis Of Assholes

In his 2002 State of the Union speech George W. Bush denounced Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an “axis of evil,” an inflammatory turn of phrase authored by David Frum. That’s right, the Frum who can be seen on your teevee as an anti-Trump conservative. He writes for the Atlantic Weekly now and still hasn’t topped the line that began life as “axis of hatred.”

In 2019, we face a corrupt, malevolent, and egomaniacal axis of assholes. They’re scattered across the globe, but the bull goose assholes are Bibi Netanyahu, Donald Trump, and Crown Prince MBS aka Mister Bone Saw seen above holding hands. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The United States may be the most powerful country in the terrible troika, but Netanyahu is the powerhouse; both mentoring and setting a bad example for the Insult Comedian who aspires to Bibi’s level of malevolent malakatude. That makes Bibi  the Mr. Bad Example of the axis of assholes:

Netanyahu just won a scorched earth re-election campaign in which he demonized his opponents, the media, and the Israeli Arab minority. As depressing as it is for those of us who remember the Israel of Ben-Gurion, Meir, Rabin, and Peres: it’s Bibi’s country now. The Israeli left is dead as is the two-state solution. Netanyahu continues to transform Israeli democracy into a system akin to apartheid era South Africa or Jim Crow era America.

The Kaiser of Chaos aspires to Bibi’s level of strongman dominance. What’s not to love about a guy who was re-elected while under threat of indictment? Mercifully, Israel’s multi-party system makes that feat difficult to replicate elsewhere but the Trumpers are hoping to follow in Bibi’s sleazy footsteps.

New Yorker honcho David Remnick wrote a perceptive and must read post-election piece, The Trump-Netanyahu Alliance. These excerpts capture the zeitgeist of the axis of assholes. The he in question is Netanyahu but it could just as easily be Trump:

Practicing a politics of division, he targets enemies in the press, the academy, and the courts. Increasingly, he finds his global allies in the ever-growing club of the Illiberal International, from the Sunni Arab leaders in his own region to Viktor Orbán, in Hungary; Jair Bolsonaro, in Brazil; and Vladimir Putin, in Russia. He has determined that the world no longer cares very much about the Palestinians or about democratic niceties. He has marginalized the left––even the center-left. The “peace camp” that [Bibi’s father] Benzion loathed now barely exists.

<SNIP>

Just as Netanyahu provided Trump instruction on the political possibilities of right-wing populism, Trump has provided Netanyahu with instruction on the possibilities of outrageous invective, voter suppression, and disdain for the law. Netanyahu now delights in the use of such phrases as “fake news.” Investigations into his financial adventures are “witch hunts.” To suppress the Arab vote in last week’s election, his supporters mounted more than a thousand cameras at polling places where Arab citizens ordinarily vote, the better to intimidate them. And, of course, both men like a wall. As Trump put it, “Walls work. Just ask Israel.” To which his proud mentor tweeted, “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.”

The axis of assholes sticks together. Neither Trump nor Netanyahu found the murder of Jamal Khashoggi objectionable and took MBS at his word that his regal hands were clean, not blood-stained. Liars tend to believe other liars.

There’s a lot of saber rattling in the direction of Iran right now. Since distraction is the only thing Trump is good at, there are well-founded fears of a “wag the dog” attack on Iran. I think the Trump regime is likely to sub-contract any such attack to the Israelis and Saudis because bombs are expensive and the president* is a cheapskate. Iran is why the leadership of those once bitter foes have converged. The Bibi-MBS nexus of the axis of assholes almost makes one nostalgic for bad old/good old days in the Middle East. The Palestinians must be.

It’s beyond ironic that the leader of the Jewish state has formed such close bonds with two anti-Semitic leaders but “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is the rule in that region. It should matter that Saudi Arabia was rhetorically pro-Nazi, but it doesn’t. It should matter that Donald Trump’s Archie Bunker-style philo-semitism is fundamentally anti-Semitic but it doesn’t. All that matters is power.

The only good thing about the axis of assholes is that it’s likely to be ephemeral. People like Bibi, the Kaiser of Chaos, and Mister Bone Saw invariably turn on one another. Cannibalism is part of assholery at this level of malakatude.

Speaking of cannibalism, the last word goes to Paul Kantner and Grace Slick:

Nielsen Cancelled

Remember when important political developments rarely happened on the weekend? It wasn’t long ago but the Current Occupant must be the center of attention at all times. It’s exhausting, y’all.

Sunday’s big news was the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. I would call her the latest Trump dignity wraith but she lost whatever dignity she once had by serving as Team Trump’s point person on immigration.

Nielsen leaves behind a legacy of shame. Caging babies, then lying about it was her modus operandi. Nielsen’s apologists claim that she restrained Trump from doing even worse, more extreme things but who gives a shit? The things she did were bad enough; some of which may have risen to the level of genocide. Things invariably get worse with each change in Trump regime policy and personnel, especially where immigration is concerned. Shit, meet fan.

President* Trump may be the man without  a plan but White House aide Stephen Miller has one. And he’s carrying it out by engaging in a purge at DHS. Just what we needed: this crypto-Fascist in charge of our immigration system, and the Secret Service to boot.

Nielsen’s apologists  tell us that she was a bureaucratic technocrat. So was Adolf Eichmann who was also adept at caging human beings. The “just following orders” defense didn’t work for him and it shouldn’t work for her.

Stephen Miller is in charge of the immigration system: Shit, meet fan.

Steve King Can Go Fuck Himself

The King of Bigots is at it again, and this time it’s personal:

[H]ere’s what FEMA tells me: We go to a place like New Orleans, and everybody’s looking around saying, “Who’s going to help me? Who’s going to help me?” We go to a place like Iowa, and we go see, knock on the door at, say, I make up a name, John’s place, and say, “John, you got water in your basement, we can write you a check, we can help you.” And John will say, “Well, wait a minute, let me get my boots. It’s Joe that needs help. Let’s go down to his place and help him.”

I don’t want to say anything derogatory about Iowa flood victims. They’ve been through enough trauma. They don’t deserve to be dragged into a political argument by one of their elected officials BUT this is such bullshit.

People in New Orleans after the storm and federal flood were just as determined to help their neighbors as the “nice white Midwesterners”  represented by the King of Bigots.  Does he think that Iowans will turn down government assistance when it’s offered? Of course not and they should not.

We all depend on the kindness of strangers after a disaster. It doesn’t matter if you’re white or black or a Democrat or Republican: people should give you a hand up instead of a kick in the head. It wasn’t right when New Orleans flood victims were used as political pawns and it’s not right if the same thing were to happen in Iowa. Unfortunately, the Trump regime has already set a pernicious precedent in Puerto Rico. I sincerely hope that federal and private aid to Iowa and other flooded area is dispensed without regard to politics. Iowans shouldn’t suffer because one of their Congresscritters is a white nationalist moron.

One more thing: Steve King can go fuck himself. I can’t say that often enough.

People Are Such Assholes, I Am Exhausted

Nope. Nope nope nope. Just made a donation to The Night Ministry in honor of these pricks because I cannot with “poor gay children near my park will ruin my life” right now:

In a question to The Crib’s leaders, parent James Walsh echoed the sentiments of several parents who — in any other neighborhood — say they likely would have supported the idea of a youth homeless shelter.

“I think everybody in this room thinks the Night Ministry does amazing work,” he said. “(But) you’ve searched for two years, and you couldn’t find a space that isn’t a stone’s throw from an elementary school? And a stone’s throw from a kid’s park? … I’m not trying to be a NIMBY alarmist in this situation. I’m really not. But it seems like it’s right on top of it.”

Some members of the crowd clapped as Walsh went on to press The Night Ministry leaders on logistics.

Before anyone can come at me with WELL WHAT IF IT WAS YOUR KID’S SCHOOL, lemme just tell you my kid regularly gives her bags of crackers and applesauce pouches and pocket change to the guys panhandling on the train because she’s a generous kind child, and in 20 years of living where we live I have had exactly zero real problems with the homeless people we’ve encountered, so I see no reason to beat those instincts out of her.

I’m far more worried about her frequent interactions with judgy racist holier-than-thou suburbanites, to be honest.

What if it was your child? Well, what if my child was homeless? What if something happened to both Mr. A and myself and she was on the streets? What if she was addicted, if she was alone, if she was scared? What if she rejected us, or we didn’t know where she was, and all we had to cling to was the forlorn hope that someone somewhere was taking care of her? Would I want her to have a safe place to go, in a neighborhood near a park and a school instead of in some industrial shithole, where she could lay down her head?

Fuckin’ A right I would and people need to put themselves in that position more often because it takes startlingly little to fall from grace these days. I am beyond exasperated by anybody who thinks they’re safe right now. How? How can you be that clueless?

The earth is caving in and so many people are trying with their own two hands to keep it all together, and we don’t have time for this kind of petty selfishness. We don’t have room to be threatened into a giant hissyfit over a shelter that holds 20 kids, most of whom are gay and are on the streets because their mean-ass families kicked them out. Come the hell on. Focus here.

You don’t want to do the work, fine. Not everyone has to have the same cause. But you can’t then refuse to make space for the people who do. That’s not a level of control you get to exercise over a world this out of whack.

A. 

Malakatude Update

Unless your memory is shorter than retired hoops star Muggsy Bogues, you surely recall Gooldloe Sutton who was 2019’s first malaka of the week. It was a popular post thanks to the good people at Crooks & Liars who linked to it in their Mike’s Blog Round Up feature. Jeez, I sound like an Oscar bloviator even though I skipped the annual snoozefest for the second straight year. I did not miss much apparently.

Back to the Klan loving small town newspaperman. He made more news the other day:

Now comes news that the 80 year old Sutton has retired from his management of the paper and will now “drink beer and sex young women.”

And that is not the most curious part of it. Sutton says he has turned the paper over to an African-American woman named Elecia Dexter, who he says has worked at the paper for a number of years.

This is story that justifies my long ago theft from Dave Barry of the phrase “I am not making this up.” I am not.

Well, you know what they say, it’s hard to keep a Goodloe malaka down.

Malaka Of The Week: Goodloe Sutton

KKK march on Washington, 1925

Goodloe Sutton is the latest in a long line of people I’ve never heard of who have emerged from obscurity to be “honored” at First Draft. He sounds like a mild-mannered small town newspaper editor but his name is misleading: Goodloe is a bad man who’s nostalgic for simpler, stupider times. And that is why Goodloe Sutton is malaka of the week.

Malaka Goodloe *is* a small town newspaperman but he’s anything but mild-mannered. His paper, the Linden Democrat-Republican, recently published an inflammatory editorial. It’s short, so here’s the whole damn, dim-witted thing:

Photograph via Montgomery Advertiser.

The story was broken by Melissa Brown of the Montgomery Advertiser in conjunction with the editors of the Auburn student paper, The Plainsman. They know malakatude when they see it.

I particularly like Malaka Goodloe’s claim that there were black Klansmen. It’s a feeble attempt to deflect charges of racism. It’s an epic fail.

Sutton’s paper is not online so it’s unclear if he’s written this sort of editorial before or if he’s yet another bigot emboldened by the Racist-in-Chief. He lives in a small town in Alabama near the Mississippi state line so neither possibility would shock me.

This editorial is Lost Causer-ism run amuck. The Klan sets fires, they don’t put them out. Back in the 1920’s, the Klan were kleptocrats, not krusaders against korruption. That whole K thing is, uh, katchy.

Malaka Goodloe should night ride home, watch The Birth of a Nation, then STFU. He won’t heed calls for his resignation: he owns the paper but decent folks in his area should find another news source. 1925 called and wants its editorial back. And that is why Goodloe Sutton is malaka of the week.

The last word (image?) goes to the movie originally known as The Clansman:

Rally Round Getting Rid of the Flag

I was in a beach store in Florida in December the last time I saw confederate merch. It was the kind of place full of polished shells and mugs that looked like sunburned bodies, and I was trying to talk myself out of buying overpriced tchotchkes for Kick. Turned the corner and BAM, a bunch of beer coozies with the stars and bars. Like they were just another souvenir.

It felt like a slap, after the past couple of years we’ve had, and I’m whiter than a very white thing. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be a family out to the county fair for a good time, only to be confronted with something that basically says, “My aesthetic is that I like owning people.”

Last summer, I contacted officials at the Essex County Fair about their vendor policy and got hung up on. The policy on their website makes no mention of offensive merchandise — same with the Franklin County Fair site. The Saratoga County vendor handbook refers to “offensive writing/pictures/graphics” in a list of prohibited products.

Letitia James said, “Confederate flags are a tribute to a dark, hateful and painful past and have no place in our society beyond the history books. State-funded fairs and events should not be peddlers and profiters of this, or any other hateful paraphernalia.”

I’d love to see the fairs adopt a clear statement of principle like that, or like this: “Racist products are banned at the fair.” That wasn’t hard. Why are some people making it hard?

A.

 

Bleak News In Review

There’s so much going on right now that I don’t quite know where to begin. I’m tempted to crawl back into my Carnival bubble and not deal with the perennially bleak state of the world BUT we have space to fill since Michael F has been on vacay. Like Lassie, he’s coming home right now, I’m not sure if I’d cast Roddy McDowell to play him but what can I tell ya? End of obscure, even for me, movie reference.

You’re probably wondering where this is headed. Me too. I think I’ll just throw some shit at the wall and see what sticks. I realize that’s how the Trump regime governs but it’s an approach that works when it comes to blogging. I’ll let you be the judge of that.

When Did Virginia Become Florida? Virginia politics used to be staid and buttoned down. That presumption of staidness began to erode during the zany and corrupt administration of Bob McDonnell. Two statewide candidacies by the Lost Causer from Minnesota, Corey Stewart, confirmed the transformation of Virginia into Florida; only without Disney World. It’s gotten much Wilder than when the Governor of that name was in charge.

Doctor/Governor Ralph Northam is still clinging to office like a barnacle on the body politic. The line of succession is a complete clusterfuck:

  • Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax is facing such credible allegations of sexual assault that he’s retained the law firm who represented Brett Kavanaugh aka Justice Bro. I wonder if Fairfax likes beer?
  • Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring is next in line but he admitted yesterday to having worn blackface as a misguided youth. It seems to have been a thing for young white dudebros back in the 1980’s. I’m glad I didn’t get the memo.

Third in line is the Speaker of the House of Delegates, Kirk Cox, who is a Republican.

A Virginian active in Democratic politics described the situation as follows to TPM:

[Carolyn] Fiddler is now the Daily Kos’s political editor and an expert on state legislative politics. She warned that the sins of the leaders would end up damaging other Democrats who’ve worked decades to build up the party, cautioning that the scandals could upend Democrats’ hopes to recapture both chambers of the capitol — their first real chance at doing so in decades.

“Shit rolls downhill,” she said. “To say I’m nervous is a bit of an understatement.”

She’s not fiddling about. They’re in deep shit and sinking fast.

I have a long-term solution to this problem: end the one-term limit on Virginia Governors. If not for that, Terry McAuliffe would still be Governor.

Designated Survivor: Former Texas Governor and twice failed GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry was the DS in more than one way this week. The Energy Secretary is still a dumbshit but he was also the Trump regime’s designated survivor for the SOTU.

Rick Perry as president is a scary thought but it’s better than Wilbur Ross. At least Rick Haircut has a zany side, I bet Wilbur has never hugged a jug of maple syrup:

I doubt that Wilbur has ever hugged anything except his money.

The Cubbies Have The Ricketts: Baseball’s former lovable underdogs have a racist right-wing owner problem. It’s well-known that patriarch Joe Ricketts was a wingnut but we didn’t know he was stupid enough to send his more bigoted thoughts via email:

Major League Baseball and the Chicago Cubs moved to distance themselves from one of their own Tuesday, after the news outlet Splinter published a cache of racist emails sent and received by Joe Ricketts, the billionaire whose family owns the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field.

Many of the published emails, sent between 2009 to 2013, focused on a fear of Muslims and contained conspiracy theories about former President Barack Obama. The false assertion that Obama, who identifies as Protestant, was Muslim and born outside the United States were prevalent in right-wing politics during his presidency.

In one email, Ricketts wrote to somebody identified only as S.V. that “Christians and Jews can have a mutual respect for each other to create a civil society,” but “Islam cannot do that.” He went on to write that, “we cannot ever let Islam become a large part of our society,” and that “Muslims are naturally my (our) enemy.”

Since email is involved I’m waiting for the rickety Ricketts clan to blame Hillary or Huma. Trey Gowdy is out of office, perhaps they can hire him to consult. BENGHAZI. BENGHAZI.

The Ricketts affair *almost* makes me nostalgic for former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott who got into trouble for saying stupid shit like this:

  • “Some of the biggest problems in this city come from women wanting to leave the home and work.”
  • “Sneaky goddamn Jews are all alike.”
  • “Only fruits wear earrings.”
  • “Everybody knows [Hitler] was good at the beginning, but he just went too far.”

That concludes this edition of First Draft potpourri. Since Michael F is off and we miss his wit and insight, he gets the last word with a Rick Perry image created in January 2017:

Oops.